Where do you live (City, State, or Country)?
Buffalo, New York
Your script stood out among hundreds of others. What was the inspiration for your story and why did you write a script instead of a short story or a novel?
The first inspiration for A Grave Meeting came to me when I was making coffee one morning trying to think of a story to write. An image of a man over a grave came to my mind and I thought what if a serial killer likes to visit the grave sites of his victims. The second inspiration was from Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock makes the audience believe they know more than the character does, but in the end, just when you think you’ve got the story figured out, he surprises you. It was that technique of storytelling that inspired me.
For several years, I’d been reading tons of screenplays to learn about story structure to write novels and short stories, but then something clicked, and I thought what if I tried writing a screenplay instead of a novel or short story. Also, screenplays force you to show and not tell more so than novels and short stories and I love that part of screenwriting.
How long did it take you to write your script...and what is your writing process? Do you outline...use index cards...white board...or just start with FADE IN?
A Grave Meeting took about three months to write. I know I should sit and plan with index cards, but I end up overanalyzing the story and end up with over-analysis paralysis, so I start with FADE IN and keep writing, using a Pomodoro timer and listening to music to keep me focused. However, I do have a general idea about the structure of the story before I type FADE IN. After the story is finished, I rewrite and edit, and keep rewriting and editing, until I think it’s good enough and I know that any more edits aren’t helpful.
What is your ultimate ambition as a writer?
The ultimate ambition for me as writer is to entertain and leave an impression on people. As as a writer I want people to leave the theater or the couch and say, “Wow!”
Was your entry at The Wiki Screenplay Contest a full script or “the first ten pages”? Why did you make that choice?
I initially entered A Grave Meeting for a Script Reading and Analysis. I wanted to get an idea of how to improve my script. You can spend so much time on your story that you lose objectivity, and I needed an objective opinion. Is this any good? And how can I make it better.
What’s your all-time favorite movie or television show...and why?
I have quite a few favorite films, but I am going to stick with the first movie I saw in the theatre when I was eight years old, Back to the Future. It started my love of movies and my love of going to the movies with my mom and the rest of my family.
As for television shows, I love Frasier for the witty dialogue. If I can ever write that kind of witty dialogue, I’d be a happy writer.
What advice do you have for writers hoping to win a contest or place as a finalist as you have?
I have three pieces of advice. First, from Steven Pressfield from The War of Art, keep pushing past RESISTANCE. Just keep writing. You will face A LOT of self doubt, but you must get past it. I have faced a lot of internal resistance and that is probably the toughest one to get past for most writers. But you must keep pushing yourself and just keep writing even when your internal editor says, “you suck” or “go to law school”.
The second piece of advice which I finally learned this year and put into practice is from Seth Godin from his book, The Practice, “Ship the Work.” You just have to get your work out there to test it and get an idea if what you wrote is any good. Third, get feedback. Constructive feedback from professionals. It can be hard to hear criticism about your work but that is how you get better at your craft.
What else are you working on that the world needs to know about?
I am at the very, very, very early stages of a female driven sci-fi spy thriller. The main character is a spy from the future who goes back in time to face an enemy spy trying to change history and the future. It started out as a flash fiction story I wrote for a contest and have been thinking of working on it as a feature screenplay. I’ve also been reading and researching a lot about female spies and their part in World War 2 and trying to figure out what story to tell from that angle.